Sutherland Highlander tour, May 85

The Sutherland Highlander remembered, May 3-5th 1985

                   After the superb “Grampian Highlander” RESL tour a few months earlier we all  had high hopes for this marathon,  but this unfortunately was never a classic, largely average power, very little off train time, no advertised 25’s, late running and umpteen other farces made it memorable for the wrong reasons. Still the 26’s over the Highland main line were excellent and it did generate one of the all time railtour comedy moments at Georgemas Jn!!  In retrospect writing this 27 yars later with 17 engines featured and huge mileage perhaps it wasn’t that bad.

Pre tour Moves and gen – May 3rd 1985

81013                    0813 Northampton-Euston                               L.Buzzard-Euston

81022                    1005 Euston-Birmingham                                 Euston-New St

47158                    1020 York-Penzance Relief

31417                    1230 Birmingham-Peterborough

81021                    1250 Brighton-Manchester

81022                    1218 Birmingham-Euston                                 New St-Euston

85003                    1718 Euston-Northampton

81006                    1355 Euston-Preston Relief

Good day for the “fish”(class 81’s) men

47623                    1445 Padd-Penzance

47509                    1450 Padd-Oxford                                              Padd-Reading

33026                    1413 Portsmouth-Leeds                                     Reading-Oxford

Booked 33 turn, very enjoyable!

47565                    1625 Oxford-Padd

47530                    1626 Reading-Liverpool rlf

47611                    1356 Liverpool-Portsmouth                              Oxford-Reading

33208  in               1440 Poole-Liverpool

A  “slim” on an inter regional, rare

47567  out            1440 Poole-Liverpool

47589                    1809 Padd-Swansea

47512                    xxxx Leeds-Brighton

47446 in                1705 Poole-Liverpool

50038 out             1705 Poole-Liverpool

37180                    xxxx Cardiff-Padd relief

Sutherland Highlander Tour – May 3rd        

37179}                  1700 Cardiff-Wick Charter 1Z25                    Reading – Acton ML


31116}                  1700 Cardiff-Wick Charter 1Z25                    Acton ML – Derby (via Luton)


This pair were well recvd by the ped men, quite rare apparently, they were also quite slow as we began to lose time

40122                    1700 Cardiff-Wick Charter 1Z25                    Derby – Edinburgh (via Sheff, Newcastle)

Sutherland Highlander Tour – May 4th

26041}                  1700 Cardiff-Wick Charter 1Z25                    Edinburgh – Inverness Rose st


08717                    1700 Cardiff-Wick Charter 1Z25                    Rose St-Inverness

37183}                  1700 Cardiff-Wick Charter 1Z25                    Inverness-Georgemas Jn


The tour was advertised at Inverness with “front porton for Thurso”rather than the usual rear portion which we thought was a wind up.

On arrival South of  Georgemas jn the train was split with the rear portion being left just outside the station. On realising that boilered  ex Stratford

37262 was going to haul our front portion to Thurso one of the most comical Georgemas Jn scenes ever followed. A large number of the rear portions

tour participants bailed onto the ballast. Some tripped over the signal wires, the Georgemas Jn signalman must have been roaring with laughter.

RESL tours and depot visits were notoriously heavily stewarded so to see the RESL big chief in flailing kilt leap from the rear portion was not a graceful scene!!

Eventually and now running hours late we arrived at Thurso behind 37262.

Here a few that had needed some of the very average boilered 37’s on  service trains ahead of us were relieved  to see us arrive, fearing the tour being

turned round en route to save time

37262                    1700 Cardiff-Thurso Charter 1Z25                 Georgemas jn-Thurso

37262                    1649 Wick/Thurso-Cardiff Charter 1Z25      Thurso-Georgemas Jn

37183}                  1649 Wick/Thurso-Cardiff Charter 1Z25      Georgemas jn -Inverness


26041}                  1649 Wick/Thurso-Cardiff Charter 1Z25      Inverness-Edinburgh


Our late running hadn’t improved and the after being turned round on arrival at Thurso we were looking forward to an evening break in Inverness.

Unfortunately the late running meant our break was confined to half an hour. A mad dash for food followed and another memorable tour moment was to

follow. On departing Inverness we were quickly halted due to station staff pulling the butterfly. The whole train was to view “the buzzard” chips flying across the

concourse and platform and very red faced join our emergency stopped train! On him regaining his breathe at Schlodt! We asked what he’d have done if he had

 missed the train at Inverness. He replied after a long pause in his gentle laid back Cornish lilt, “fast taxi to Aviemore, I suppose”. Legendary!

Much doss followed but Northampton Mick was to advise that the train was very cold at Edinburgh so perhaps the “teacups” went to Haymarket before rejoining

the tour’s Edinburgh-MossEnd leg.     

Service trains viewed

47117                    0635 Edinburgh-Dundee

47049                    1032 Inverness-Aberdeen

47460                    1030 Inverness-Edinburgh

37114                    1055 Inverness-Kyle

37035                    0600 Wick/Thurso-Inverness

37035                    1130 Inverness-Wick/Thurso

47460                    1030 Euston-Inverness

37025                    1730 Inverness-Wick/Thurso

Sutherland Highlander Tour – May 5th

26041}                  1649 Wick/Thurso-Cardiff Charter 1Z25      Edinburgh-Moss End


20175}                  1649 Wick/Thurso-Cardiff Charter 1Z25      MossEnd-Springburn (via Dumbarton Goods loop)


Believe these were coupled cab to nose in true Scottish tradition. They were rather common ones apparently…We were eventually deposited at Springburn from where

an Eastfield depot visit was planned. This was caped some time before so on being left at Springburn station which was closed and the gate locked was a bit farcical as we were there for

2 hours! Some climbed over the gate for a carry out many photted 37155 which was resident on a ballast train. Eventually 40122 returned with still unwatered stock with bogs

that by comparison made Bulgarian khazis the lap of odour luxury. At Edinburgh the stock was finally watered, almost 48 hours after leaving Cardiff.       

40122                    1649 Wick/Thurso-Cardiff Charter 1Z25       Springburn-Leicester (via Edin,Newcastle)

31126}                  1649 Wick/Thurso-Cardiff Charter 1Z25      Leicester-Bedford


The last farce, the Leicester-Southall  was advertised as a pair of 25’s but most aboard were aware that yet more 31’s were allocated and this dull pair produced. We leapt at Bedford

for a fast car home, a marathon over and a memory from Georgemas that will never be forgotten!

Sutherland Highlander Phot Spot

 37183 and 37264 at Rogart prior to crossing 37025 on an up Far North service, 040585

 Crowd puller!, 37262 reveses the tour portion out of Thurso, service train stock is behind, 040585

 As the light fades, the stars of the tour 26041 and 26032 await departure South, 040585

 Springburn syphon, we had 2 hours to phot 37155 on a Sunday ballast turn, 050585

 The queen of green, 40122 running round at Sheffield as we near home, 050585

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